by David Geer
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Robonaut 2: The First Robot
On The International Space Station
Not “on a pony … named Wildfire”, but on the Space Shuttle Discovery the
Robonaut 2 rode beyond our atmosphere and up to the International Space Station
(ISS). On February 24th at 4: 53 pm EST, the Shuttle left the Kennedy Space Center
with the first-ever humanoid robot in space which will be mounted inside the ISS
for experimentation. There, astronauts will interact with the robot and aid it in
developing skills that will some day prove useful in assisting future astronauts in
their daily space-borne duties.
The chief roboticist at GM spoke with me about the
historic shuttle event. “I attended the Discovery launch,”
says Marty Linn, principal engineer, robotics, GM, “I had
never been to one. It was an amazing site. The weather
was cooperative. We put the first humanoid robot in space.
They moved the robot out to the shuttle in a box and
transported it to the ISS in the module it will be housed in.”
Though the robot is still under development, Robonaut
2 already hosts a broad platform of technologies that
enable it to perform dexterous and manipulative tasks.
Though its roots are 14 years old (NASA started Robonaut
development in 1997), it has come a long way.
Robonaut 2 with a piece of hardware in hand.
10 SERVO 05.2011